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From Waitlist to Enrollment

I cannot stress enough to my clients how important it is to disclose everything they can to an admissions committee. Why? Because sometimes, what you don't say may actually be the difference between an acceptance letter and a rejection.

One client in particular – let's call him Jon – was in such a position. His SAT scores sat in the low 400s, but he had outstanding grades. At a glance, there seemed to be a huge disconnect there, but no other information was present on the application to suggest what that was.

Jon came to me after a family friend had used AdmissionsConsultants and was pleased with the assistance he had gotten. Unfortunately, Jon had already applied to several schools and was on the waitlist with the one university he really wanted to attend – a top ten liberal arts college (as ranked by US News and World Report). Determined to get off the list and into the program, he was connected to me.

After looking over his original application and noting such severe disparity between his scores and grades, I asked several probing questions. Finally, after much discourse, I was told that Jon had a learning disability – and that his school counselors had advised him to not disclose that information in his university applications.

A big mistake.

See, admission committees need to have as much information about you as possible in order to determine if you're right for the school or not. If you neglect to give them the info, even if it seems detrimental to you, you stand to blow your chances on getting that acceptance letter. That's what happened to Jon – he was good enough for the waitlist, but not outstanding enough to get through the door.

We set out to write the university an update letter, targeted specifically to the school. Jon really wanted a degree from there – he knew what classes he needed to take, who were the right professors to see and mentor with, and even knew how that degree impacted the career path he ultimately wanted to follow. We incorporated all of that into the letter, and also explained how his learning disability affected his test scores. Combined with his strong academic record and extracurricular activities, he was able to show in his update letter just how great a person he was, despite the “handicap” of his disability.

As we worked on the update, I kept Jon and his parents focused on the fact that he had been accepted to other schools as well. Though they weren't his first choice, it was something to be proud about. By keeping his mindset upbeat, it made the process a lot easier for Jon.

We got our response soon after and found that the admissions committee had taken Jon off the waitlist – and was prepared to accept him as a student for the next semester!

If Jon hadn't taken the step to disclose his disability information, he most certainly would not be attending the school of his dreams.

- Contributed by Senior Consultant Nadine C. Warner. Nadine served for three years as Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of Chicago.

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